HEAD coach James Ford has intimated Sunday's Yorkshire Cup semi-final could be the last chance his York City Knights players will get to prove they are worthy of a starting role for the big kick off.

The Knights go to Championship rivals Batley Bulldogs this weekend for their penultimate pre-season fixture ahead of the new campaign.

Ford says he will be "streamlining" his match-day squad the following week in their final warm-up fixture, regardless of whether it be the final of this pre-season tournament or a friendly. Focus at that point will largely be on his preferred line-up getting used to each other ahead of the big Championship opener at home to title favourites Toronto Wolfpack on February 3.

Said Ford: "There will be one more game where everyone gets minutes out there and gets an opportunity to show what they can do.

“After that it’s all about preparing for the Toronto game.

"We want to win the game this weekend but I won't be playing anyone who's carrying an injury and I will make sure everyone else gets minutes and an opportunity to show what they can do.

"A few players have really stood up this pre-season and they are probably in my mind for Toronto and there are a couple who aren't far away.

"This week is a chance for them to hammer home that they should be in the side."

Referring to Saturday's win over amateurs Hunslet Club Parkside, he added: “One or two were not as good as they needed to be. After that (next week’s game), they will have to wait.”

Asked if the following week's line-up will reflect the side he intends to play against the Wolfpack, Ford said: "I will be streamlining next week.

"I'm sure there will be some positions I'm unsure about, probably up to the week of the Toronto game, as any coach would be.

"But I will probably give more time for certain players to form relationships, understanding and cohesion (in the last pre-season fixture).

"Come the end of the Batley game I will be closer to knowing the 17 players for Toronto."

Meanwhile, the Knights have had relatively good news on the injury front.

The assessment of Sam Scott's ongoing groin issue suggests he could be back in training in two or three weeks. It would still mean him missing the start of the season but a lengthy spell on the sidelines, as had been feared, now appears less likely.

Ford said: "His latest scan confirmed two tears of the adductor (muscle) but they don't think he will be too far from being back in training. It's certainly positive news."

Of the four players injured in Saturday's win over Parkside, only Jack Blagbrough (ankle) is definitely ruled out of Sunday's visit to Batley, although early indications are that he too could well be fit for the season opener.

Connor Robinson (ankle), Harry Carter (calf) and Ronan Dixon (hip) could all be back in training later this week, although none will be risked at the weekend if not 100 per cent fit.

Mike Kelly (groin) could also be okay for Sunday, when fit-again skipper Tim Spears will make his 2019 bow.

Joe Porter (knee) was expected back in training this week too and likewise could get a run-out on Sunday.

Fellow former York Acorn starlet Matt Chilton (knee) seems unlikely to feature this weekend but his knee problem is reportedly improving.